Pet overpopulation is still a very real issue, and in many ways it feels daunting to tackle. It is caused by several things: stray dogs and cats reproducing, and pet owners who either don’t want, or can’t take care of their pet anymore. At East Valley Animal Hospital, we care about this issue and strive to educate on it.
A staggering number of pets are surrendered to shelters every year. Without enough space and resources to care for these animals, millions of dogs and cats must be euthanized every year. The specific statistics of pet overpopulation can feel overwhelming, but there are ways that you can help solve this problem.
Adopt Don’t Shop
The primary way you can help prevent pet overpopulation is by adopting your new furry family members from a shelter or rescue. Animals in shelters and rescues are just as special and loveable as those from pet stores and breeders. Even if you have a specific breed or color of dog or cat in mind, you can find what you are looking for through a shelter or rescue agency.
When you adopt a dog or cat (or even a rabbit or guinea pig) from a shelter, you are not only helping prevent pet overpopulation, but you are giving your new pet a second chance at life. Adopting a shelter pet can come with some challenges, but there is plenty of support and resources for new pet owners.
Spay and Neuter Your Pets
The most practical way to help prevent pet overpopulation is by making sure your pets are spayed or neutered. This is one of the main tips that the ASPCA and American Humane Society suggest when it comes to controlling the pet population. Preventing dogs and cats from reproducing greatly reduces the chances of their offspring becoming strays.
Most shelters spay and neuter all the animals they adopt out before they leave, as a prevention against overpopulation. If your pet is not currently spayed or neutered, it is something you should prioritize. Accidents happen, and sometimes our pets get loose or interact with other dogs and cats that aren’t spayed or neutered. Rather than take that chance, we always suggest spaying or neutering your pets as soon as they are old enough.
Commit to Your Pets
While adopting new furry family members is a wonderful experience and a great way to prevent pet overpopulation, you have to be able to commit to your new pet for life. One of the major factors in pet overpopulation is owners giving up their animals because they no longer want to, or no longer can take care of them. If you are unsure if you will be able to properly care for a new pet long term, then it may not be the right time to adopt one. Ask yourself if it is the right time for you to commit to a new family member for life before adopting.
Protect Your Pets
Many stray dogs and cats that are brought into shelters are actually lost pets who previously have loving homes. If a pet has no identification, it can be impossible to know who the pet belongs to, and to return them to their family. Instead, these animals often become a part of the overpopulation problem.
Another key way you can prevent pet overpopulation is by making sure your pets are safe and identifiable. Avoid leaving your pets outside unsupervised, even if you have an invisible fence or physically fenced yard.
Always keep your pet on a leash when out on walks or hikes, and make sure they are always wearing a secure collar with identification tags. Microchips are another fantastic safety measure, as shelters will almost always scan for a microchip when they take in a stray animal.
Continuing Commitment and Protection
If you live in the Gilbert, Arizona area and want to make sure your pet has a vet as committed to their wellbeing as you are, come see us at East Valley Animal Hospital! We are passionate about giving every pet the best care possible.
Whether your pet needs to be spayed or neutered, microchipped, or just needs a wellness exam, we can take care of all your pet’s needs. Schedule an appointment by calling us at 480-568-2462 or using our website!
Photo by Catarina Carvalho on Unsplash